PARIS Nov 27 European Union members want to
create a joint project on the digitisation of books, French
Culture Minister Frederic Mitterrand said, challenging Google's
(GOOG.O) plan to create a massive digital library.
EU ministers agreed in Brussels on Friday to create a
committee of "wise men" to carve out a plan, Mitterrand said in
an interview with French newspaper Journal du Dimanche due to be
published on Saturday.
He also said the digitisation of books should not be left to
private companies, and governments had to come up with
"The committee will be asked to bring together national
views and draw up a joint position," he told the newspaper.
Google's plan to scan millions of books and post extracts
online is part of a settlement deal reached with the U.S.
Authors Guild. The plan has been praised for bringing broad
access to books but has also been criticised on antitrust,
copyright and privacy grounds.
Asked whether the ministers were in favour of the Google
settlement, Mitterrand said he could not comment for the moment.
"For my part, there isn't any anti-Americanism.
Nevertheless, I believe America isn't a monolith, and different
opinions must be expressed. That's why I don't want the State to
surrender before the markets," he said.
"It's not up to this or that private group to decide policy
on an issue as important as the digitisation of our global
heritage. I'm not going to leave this decision up to simple
laisser-faire," he added.
He said that Europeana, an EU platform for digitised books,
archives and images, should play a more important role in the
future and that ministers wanted to improve its funding.
French publishers have accused Google of exploiting their
country's literary heritage and in September asked a Paris court
to fine the Internet firm if it continues to digitise their
books. The tribunal expects to reach a decision by Dec. 18.
(Reporting by Sophie Hardach; Editing by Charles Dick)
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